- Claire Lew
- Neal Sales-Griffin
- Charles Adler
- Alicia Bassuk
- Emily Lonigro Boylan
- Sharon Burdett
- DJ Catrow
- Kendra Foley
- Lauren Goggins
- Gretchen Gscheidle
- Matthew Hoffman
- Chris Jones
- Gregg Latterman
- Terri Lonier
- Sandra Malec
- Benjamin Miles
- Mike Moyer
- Mike Oren
- Erin Pierce
- Beth K. Rosen
- Sam Rosen
- Danny Schuman
- Joe Solari
- Elena Valentine
- Steven Wang
Meet Our Mentors
Claire Lew is the CEO of Know Your Company, a software tool that helps business owners overcome company growing pains and get honest, ongoing feedback from employees. Her company, Know Your Company, has helped over 15,000 people in 25 countries at companies like Airbnb and Kickstarter. Know Your Company also runs an online leadership community called The Watercooler with 400+ leaders and 700+ conversations on hiring, firing, business growth and more. Claire’s mission in life is to help people become happier at work. She speaks internationally on how to create more open, honest workplace environments, and has been published in Harvard Business Review, CNBC, Inc, Fortune, among others. Claire is also an adjunct professor at her alma mater, Northwestern University.
In 2010 Neal Sales-Griffin left a position as founder-in-residence at a venture capital firm to fulfill a three-part desire: solve problems, make things, and have fun doing it. His company was the first to work in the 1871 Chicago incubator space, and one year later launched The Starter League with his partner Mike McGee, one of the first code boot camps, with the goal of helping people solve problems through technology and code. Since The Starter League's launch in 2011 up until its acquisition by Fullstack Academy this March, over 1,500 students learned tech and entrepreneurship skills through the program. Now the duo is bringing that philosophy to a new audience: middle school and high school students.
Neal and Mike are taking over CodeNow, a Y Combinator-backed nonprofit that hosts coding workshops for students from low-income backgrounds in six cities across the US. Neal will be CEO (and will help Fullstack part-time with their Chicago operation) and Mike will be director of programs. The two will join a team of six full-time and two part-time employees. Current CEO Ryan Seashore will join the board of directors. Jumping headfirst into CodeNow, Neal and Mike aim to retool the program to focus on problem solving software and to expand to new cities, including Chicago.
Charles Adler is a social entrepreneur, Cofounder and former Head of Design at Kickstarter, and Founder of Lost Arts. Kickstarter, the groundbreaking crowdfunding platform, revolutionized how creative projects are funding globally. Lost Arts, a new experiment in the future of creative work, aims to drive innovation through open support of creativity.
As a leading entrepreneur and designer, Charles’ work ranges from systems design to interaction and community design, interface design to information architecture.
In 2013 Charles was named as one of Forbes magazine’s Top 12 Most Disruptive Figures in Business. Charles cofounded Kickstarter in 2009 shaping it into the world’s largest platform funding independent creative endeavors. Since its inception, Kickstarter has raised over $2 billion from over 6.4 million people for over 75,000 successful projects ranging from computer games to music albums, technology, fashion, educational projects and full length feature films.
Charles previously cofounded the online art publication Subsystence, and founded Source ID, where he operated as Principal Creative Director from 2003 to 2009.
Alicia is a leadership designer, executive coach and performance advisor to leaders and their teams internationally. She was named one of the 2017 Top 100 Leadership Speakers by LeadX on Inc.com, and her clients have nicknamed her a business shrink, muse, Yoda, Chief Inspiration Officer, and drill sergeant. Clients include presidential appointees, the NBA, Barclays, McKinsey & Company, Christie’s, United Nations, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and the MIT Media Lab.
She is an online contributor to the Harvard Business Review, Oprah Magazine, HuffPost, and CNN. She gives talks, moderates panels and mentors at venues such as Soho House, Booth Business School, DePaul University, Lost Arts, and 1871. She is currently writing her upcoming book (2018) for McGraw-Hill, When No One is Looking Take the Lead: 16 Weeks to Perpetual Progress.
Prior to her extensive work in performance development, Alicia worked with top tier clients as an independent strategy consultant designing and executing innovative projects used to shift teams into more nimble business practices.
She holds dual citizenship (Argentina), speaks Spanish and has lived in Buenos Aires, Tel Aviv, Boulder and Honolulu.
In 2004, Emily founded LimeRed Studio with a plan to prioritize high-quality design, user experience and meaningful social impact. Today, LimeRed is the only UX agency in the world that is both a Certified B Corporation and Certified woman-owned.
Her 14 years in business spans design, sales, operations, user experience, branding, marketing and strategy in both online and offline programs for multinational corporations, nonprofits, universities, startups and consumer brands.
She is also an advisor and formerly VP of the Board of We Will, a lobbying organization in Illinois for women and children’s rights. She’s Adjunct Faculty at Columbia College Chicago in the Communications, Media, and Innovation Department. She’s an Advisory Board member for the startup DesignerShare. She’s an experienced tech accelerator coach and facilitator, and business mentor at 1871. She’s a published writer and teaches workshops for entrepreneurs and social changemakers. Emily is also regular speaker and panelist at national and regional conferences.
Sharon blends her background as a skilled graphic designer and brand strategist with a strong material and formal sensibility in her work. Motivated by the desire to create timeless, functional objects of the highest quality, Sharon approaches the design process with an emphasis on human centered design. Sharon is an SAIC alum and former instructor in AIADO at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago.
DJ Catrow is a Principal and the Creative Director of Studio 424, a boutique creative, branding, and digital studio that creates experiences intended to make people’s lives better. He works to explore models and complex systems that influence the overarching visual language of the studio.
DJ’s professional experience includes brand development and digital design for CVS Caremark, McDonald’s, Unilever, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Golin, IRi Worldwide, University of Chicago, Joyce Foundation, the City of Chicago, and Nike. He believes collaboration is the key to successful projects. DJ’s downtime is spent on competitive soccer leagues, his dogs, and his personal art practice—all fueled by an espresso addiction.
Kendra Foley spent 20 years in New York working for arts and education institutions such as Ubu Repertory Theatre, the Guggenheim Museum, Thirteen/WNET, and Cambridge in America before coming to SAIC in August 2013. Her experience runs the gamut from actress to administrator including audience development, community outreach, marketing and fundraising. She established the MakeWork Council in the spring of 2015 to support the innate ability of artists and designers to become entrepreneurs.
Lauren Goggins, Founder + CEO, Bottom Line Yoga
Like so many young people in this country, there were so many potential career paths that choosing one seems daunting, especially when there’s a lack of passion. After months of indecision about whether Lauren should attend law school or get my Masters in Political Science, she was accepted to Teach for America. She decided she shouldn’t spend any more time and money on education until she knew exactly which career path she desired, so she enrolled in Teach for America.
Although it was a difficult transition, she thrived under pressure. She was so committed to her students, and she loved teaching. That being said, she lost herself in the work and stress of leading 90 middle school age children in their pursuit of passing the end of the year standardized tests. When her two-year commitment was up, she found herself in the same place she was when she graduated college. she began applying to MBA programs.
She knew the connection and passion she was looking for couldn’t be found through a career path. She started to wake up to the idea that it had to be something intrinsic, so she started to explore alternative paths. Being a yoga practitioner for several years, she decided she would go on a “Quarter Life Calling” retreat at Kripalu, a yoga and health center in Massachusetts. During those five days something inside her awoke, and she realized she was more than what she did for a living, or what college she went to. She made a connection to herself through yoga and meditation. Ironically through this experience she did find her calling. She made it her personal mission in life to live with connection, and provide the same experiences to other people.
Gretchen Gscheidle is a well-grounded rationalist and an eternal optimist. She leads Herman Miller’s team of researchers as the Head of Insight and Exploration. Championing research and creativity in the earliest phases of Herman Miller’s product development efforts, Gretchen leads the team that explores unmet customer needs and responds to strategic questions identified by various organizational leaders.
As the research link in all of the company’s seating introductions beginning with the Aeron chair in 1994, Gretchen brings a strong record of participation and contribution in product development at Herman Miller. Her ergonomic research focuses on laboratory studies of pressure distribution, thermal comfort, kinematics and usability, as well as field ethnography and user trials. Gretchen is a member of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society and represents Herman Miller on the Office Ergonomics Research Committee. Her work has been published in peer-reviewed journals.
Matthew Hoffman is a Chicago based artist and designer whose public works have been exhibited internationally. His ideas and work have been included in Good, the New York Times Magazine, and Ready Made. He has been published in books by Gestalten, Droog, and Taschen, and was featured in a segment on the Oprah network.
Matthew has created large scale public installations for the City of Chicago, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, Albright Knox Gallery, as well as companies like Facebook, Zappos, Groupon, and Cards Against Humanity. There are close to 30 of his outdoor installations currently up in the Chicagoland area.
Matthew is the Custodian of You Are Beautiful, a project to better the world in little ways. The message has reached every corner of the globe, with over three million stickers shared by the community. The hope is for us to share uplifting thoughts with each other.
Chris Jones is an entrepreneurial executive experienced with leading product development and design teams across large and early stage organizations. He has a passion for combining user centered product design with emerging technologies including mobile, social media, ad tech, sematic web, natural language processing, and machine learning.
Gregg is a music and entertainment industry entrepreneur. Upon graduating from Kellogg School of Management, Gregg negotiated a joint venture with Columbia Records and signed Train, Five for Fighting, John Mayer, and Mat Kearney to his independent record label, Aware, founded in 1993. Aware/Columbia has sold over 25 million records worldwide. In 1999, he built A-Squared Management that directed the careers of artists such as The Fray, Michelle Branch, Liz Phair, Brandi Carlile, Jack’s Mannequin, Mat Kearney, and Five for Fighting. Gregg was one of the early entrepreneur’s to combine music with television, film, and advertising campaigns.
Gregg graduated in 2013 with a Masters in Positive Psychology at The University of Pennsylvania under Martin Seligman and now teaches “Positive Entrepreneurship” at Northwestern University as well as NUvention: Entrepreneurship for the Arts; In addition, Gregg is an Adjunct Lecturer of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Kellogg School of Management as well as Program Lead for the Zell Fellows (2nd year MBA’s who are building companies) New Venture Track.
Terri Lonier, Dean, Career and Professional Experience (CAPX), School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Founding Member, MakeWork Council
Terri is Dean of the Career and Professional Experience (CAPX) office at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), a leading independent school of art and design that has been recognized as "the most influential art college in the United States." In her role, she leads a team that guides the school's 3,600 art students and thousands of alumni in making the transition from student to professional. Prior to joining SAIC in July 2015, Terri served as Executive Director of DePaul University's Coleman Entrepreneurship Center. She brought entrepreneurship to many parts of the DePaul campus, and built vibrant partnerships with members of the Chicago entrepreneurial community. She was the vision behind a 4,000-square-foot expansion of the Center's space into a student startup incubator that opened in 2016. A pioneer in the solopreneur movement and a nationally recognized authority on microbusiness, Terri is the author of five books (John Wiley & Sons), numerous articles, and three audio programs. Her classic entrepreneurial startup guide, Working Solo, was named "the #1 choice for solo entrepreneurs" in an Inc. magazine cover story and "the free agent's bible" by Fast Company magazine. She recently developed the Creative Canvas, an idea exploration and planning tool for creative projects based on the popular Business Model Canvas.
Sandra Malec’s work combines research and reporting on trends, and focuses on the home furnishings industry and fashion. Much of this entails travel to trade shows to research trends and meet with designers, like the Milan Salone, ICFF, Maison et Objet. Sandra oversees freelance designers and artists, vendors, and agents, which kickstarts a new product development season. At CB2, Sandra acts as a liaison between Product Managers and Product Developers and Freelance Designers.
Sandra initiated the launch for www.blog/cb2.com and currently supports the marketing team as facilitator on its new format: www.cb2.com/blog, also known as Idea Central.
Benjamin Miles is a company maker, creative coder, digital designer, mentor, and husband. He is a partner and the Director of Interactive at The Uprising Creative, a Chicago/Los Angeles based creative and production company. His professional career started in 2006 at Chicago advertising agency, Schafer Condon Carter. After several years he ventured out with a few peers to start, Kilo Inc., a production company, recording studio, and record label. The business grew and a relationship evolved with digital studio, Eyes & Ears, where he would eventually team up as a partner, and help lead a merger with The Uprising Creative. Through The Uprising he's provided work for brands and artists such as Nike, Chevy, Budweiser, Converse, Beyoncé, The Rolling Stones, and Bruno Mars.
Mike Moyer is an entrepreneur who has started a number of companies including Bananagraphics, a product development and merchandising company, Moondog, an outdoor clothing manufacturing company, Vicarious Communication, Inc, a marketing technology company for the medical industry, Cappex.com, a site that helps students find the right college, and Lake Shark Ventures, LLC, which provides publications, angel investments, and software.
In addition to his experience as an entrepreneur he has held a number of senior-level marketing positions with companies that sell everything from vacuum cleaners to financial data services to motor home chassis to luxury wine. Mike is the inventor of Slicing Pie—a model for creating perfect equity splits in bootstrapped companies that is used all over the world. He is the author of a number of books including How to Make Colleges Want You, Pitch Ninja, Trade Show Samurai, Slicing Pie and The Slicing Pie Handbook. He has an MS in integrated marketing from Northwestern University and an MBA from the University of Chicago. He lives in Lake Forest, Illinois with his wife, three kids and the Lizard of Oz.
Mike Oren, Sole Proprietor
Mike’s passion is to improve technology. He works to ensure organizations are set up to maximize the empathy for their customers. This translates consumer pain points and opportunities into well designed solutions. He helps bring stakeholders across the organization together, working to democratize data to focus on the core problem. This makes the best solutions for our customers.
He is a believer in giving back to society, focusing on underprivileged youths. He has served as a Big Brother mentor and has chaired the associate board of Citizen Schools of Illinois. Currently, he is focusing on design education by serving as a mentor for Northwestern Segal Design Institute students. Additionally, he runs a MeetUp for user & design researchers, Innovation in the Data Economy speaker series, and teaches at the Institute of Design.
In his spare time, he is building out Socie.tech, a company seeking to end the tyrannical control our device addiction seems to hold over our social interactions.
Erin Pierce has over 11 years of experience in digital marketing and tech platforms. Throughout her career she has held marketing and public relations positions at Ruder Finn, Adobe, and now Pluralsight, an on-demand technology learning platform.
Beth K. Rosen, Creative Director and Co Founder SparkFete Media and ChicagonistaLIVE
Founding Member, MakeWork Council
Beth is a leading edge Social Media strategist whose versatility and expertise in media and the promotional arts allows individuals and companies to realize their full potential on various social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram as well as through podcasting and blogging/ vlogging.
By the age of five, Sam was most likely to be found behind his Mac trying to get all those ideas out of his head and into the world.
Born and raised in Chicago, Sam spent the better part of the last decade starting businesses all centered around people and design. Formally trained as a designer, these days he spends more time at the business end of things. He prides himself on a keen ability to connect great people with lovely ideas, spaces and other great people all with the goal of making meaningful work and hopefully making the world a better place along the way.
Danny Schuman, President, Twister
Danny Schuman is the President and Head Twister at Twist, a marketing consultancy in Chicago. Twist works with brands ranging from small non-profits to Fortune 100 companies, helping them develop successful brand strategy, focus their message, and achieve maximum impact through superior ideas and execution.
At his heart Danny is a writer and entrepreneur. His book The Worst Business Model in the World: A New Kind of Guide for a New Kind of Entrepreneur helps people who aren’t naturally born entrepreneurs find success on their own paths. He mentors entrepreneurs at the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center at DePaul University and workshops entrepreneurship at the Polsky Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago.
Before founding Twist, Danny wrote and creative directed marketing campaigns that helped build iconic brands like Quaker Oatmeal, Coors Light, and Gatorade. He and Michael Jordan started working on Gatorade on the same day. Michael called Danny “Peanut Butter Jelly Boy,” but that’s a story for another time.
Joe Solari (BFA 1991) is a partner at Claymore, Ulfberht, & Xiphos (CUX), at which he describes himself and his colleagues as matchmakers and coaches for impact investing. Their expertise is environmental and social impact investment deal origination.
They help capital seekers to develop financial models and test these models to quantify execution risk, potential impact and investment returns. CUX develops a capital structure that supports the projects objectives and then facilitates getting the right group of investors that are passionate about the issue and are aligned by their stated mission.
CUX provides impact funds with deal flow that aligns with mission objectives across environmental and social issues in both developed and emerging markets. They are a source of projects that are in need of financial sponsorship and typically have a mix of private and foundation money and provide meaningful measurable impact.
Part of the value that CUX brings is the ability to be creative and develop structures that help to test and quantify risk, provide a method for liquidity and exit and assure that the project remains on mission post investment horizon.
Elena Valentine, CEO, Skill Scout
Workplace storyteller, #HRAgainstLame movement builder, and Design Researcher, Elena spends her days leading the team at Skill Scout to bring jobs to life on video. Every workplace has a story to tell about the team, skills, environment, and output. Elena helps tell those stories to attract the right candidates for the job, and showcase candidates' skills. As CEO, Elena wears many hats, but really geeks out on: new media (360, VR, POV videos, silent storytelling), partnerships, and building Skill Scout’s diverse workforce!
Steven Wang has over seven years of experience within the consumer packaged goods industry, helping Fortune 500 companies develop and grow their store brands. His experience spanned the realms of retail execution, new product development, market research and analytics, and category management for such retailers as Kroger, Office Depot, Safeway, and Kmart.
His passion for opera—and the desire to find ways of getting younger generations involved in the art form—influenced him to pursue his MBA at the University of Cambridge in the UK, specializing in Culture and Arts Management. During his studies, Steven produced a modern interpretation of Dido and Aeneas, and worked as a budgeting consultant for the Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle. After his program, he assisted the Aldeburgh Music in Suffolk on multiple consulting projects, including a revamp of their marketing message to improve their recruitment strategies for the Aldeburgh World Orchestra.
Steven also holds a BS in Marketing (Honors) and Economics from Arizona State University.
He joined High Concept Labs in 2015.